Storywork in STEM-Art: Making, Materiality and Robotics within Everyday Acts of Indigenous Presence and Resurgence

Carrie Tzou, Meixi, Enrique Suárez, Philip Bell, Don LaBonte, Elizabeth Starks, Megan Bang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


This article presents findings from TechTales, a participatory design research (PDR) project where learning scientists, public library staff members, informal science educators, and staff members from Native-American-serving organizations collaborated to design a family-based robotics workshop that was grounded in storytelling. We approach this by engaging Indigenous ways of knowing and being from a sociocultural learning theory perspective. Through analyzing families-in-interaction as they constructed dioramas with robotics that told their family stories, we explore how cultivating consequential learning environments in STEM is intimately intertwined with historicity, knowledge systems, and the agentic positioning of learners to design new technologies. We find that using storywork as the design focus of building dioramas created learning environments where computer programing and robotics became dynamic tools toward family-making, collaboration, and the active presencing of Indigenous knowledge systems and cultural practices. Living and interrelating with story and its knowledge systems through making were enactments of Indigenous resurgence in everyday ways. From a structure of social practices perspective, this opens up learning spaces for engagement in STEM-Art practices and in relation to other social practices of consequence, such as cultural flourishing and affiliation, collaboration and family-making, and societal repositioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-326
Number of pages21
JournalCognition and Instruction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the participating families in TechTales that shared their stories with us. This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number DRL 1516562. Any findings or opinions expressed in this material are our own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


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